East Meets West

An ideal Hamptons-style retreat on the shores of Gull Lake near Brainerd


ERIC AND STEPHANIE GREW UP IN HUDSON, WISCONSIN, but the couple has spent the last twenty years working and raising their three children in California. No matter where life took them, they always seemed to return to Gull Lake. Eric had vacationed here as a child, and they brought their own children back for summer vacations at both Madden’s and Cragun’s resorts.

Four years ago, the couple was vacationing on Gull Lake and out for a walk when they noticed a for sale sign on an empty lake lot. They had been thinking about buying an existing home on Gull for use as a vacation and future retirement home, but they loved the lot, its location close to the area golf courses and its lakeshore. Later that day, they made an offer. It was accepted.

“It had been a dream of ours for a long time to have a lake home up there,” Eric explains. “It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to buy it, but we fell in love with the lot.”

“It was close to everything we love to do,” adds Stephanie.

Their realtor recommended Lands End Development as a potential builder for their new home. After that first meeting, the couple knew they had found their builder. They hired Robin Burns, a designer who worked on their home in California. She worked closely with Paula Kovatovich, interior designer at Lands End Development, on the design and the details within their Gull Lake home.

As fate would have it, after they purchased their Gull Lake lot and started to plan their new home, a job opportunity would bring them back to Minnesota. Stephanie got a job offer they couldn’t refuse and they moved to Edina.

“We thought the stars were aligning,” says Stephanie. “We didn’t realize when we started the build process we’d be living back here when the house was getting completed.”

It meant they’d be able to spend even more time on Gull Lake. Construction of their new home started in May 2017 and it was completed last June. They moved back to Minnesota in early June last year after their daughter graduated from high school in California. They now have two children in college and one at home.

Their Gull Lake home is a Hamptons-style home with a fresh, white-washed clean look and ocean inspired greys and blues. Despite the neutral color palette, the home offers a “beachy casual” warmth, the perfect gathering place for family and friends at the lake.

The home has five bedrooms and a bunk house with eight twin beds for guests. A stone sauna lakeside allows the family and their guests to take a leap into the lake or snow to cool off.

“I love all the outdoor stuff – the dock, the boats, the jet skis, the sauna,” explains Eric. He’ll grab a cup of coffee and take a solo lake cruise at 6 a.m. when he’s up north. The home offers cozy outdoor gathering areas, including the deck and fire pit.

Inside, there are plenty of places to enjoy being together. An entertainment room has a pool table and even an indoor putting green for their family and friends to practice their shots before hitting the course. The family enjoys golfing, and Eric says the Brainerd lakes area has the best concentration of quality golf courses that he’s played on.

For Stephanie, the spacious pantry and butler’s pantry was something she envisioned for their home. They are as beautiful as they are useful for entertaining and storage.

“I love the ceilings, they feel grand but not cold, and the four-season porch is probably my favorite,” says Stephanie.

The couple says people have been surprised by the east coast beach house look of their home because it’s not often seen in Minnesota. But it turned out as well as they had imagined. They had a smooth building experience, thanks to Lands End Development and several subcontractors who ensured everything was finished on time and as expected. The Woods Landscaping made sure the landscaping and outdoor amenities flowed together properly within the property. The family gets many Gull Lake boaters who drive-by slowly, inspecting their new home.

“It feels very comfortable and we love our neighbors. It feels like home,” says Stephanie. “I don’t think I would change a thing, honestly.”

Eventually, they plan to retire here, but for now they’re spending as much time as they can up at the lake year-round. Eric brought friends up to Gull Lake for Super Bowl weekend.

“We’re looking forward to when the ice is out,” says Eric.